I love sharing recipes, and I have a lot of them I go back to over and over. This recipe is in my top five, and I’ve never served them to anyone who didn’t beg for it afterward. (By “it” I mean the recipe, sickos). I realize this picture is kind of a big gloppy of pile of ribs, but there's a simple explanation...it's a big, gloppy pile of ribs.
Yes, they require some labor. Yes, you will need a defibrillator and a Lipitor drip. Yes, there are a lot of ingredients, but don’t be so goddamned lazy. You have to hack up some vegetables, dump them all into a pan with the ribs and let them braise for a few hours. Cry me a river. Once they cool overnight you slice ‘em, bread ‘em, fry the shit out of them and dip them into a quick-and-easy Asian-esque barbecue sauce that’ll make you slap your mama. They’re crispy, they’re tangy, and you won’t stop with just one. According to the recipe, there's enough to serve 6. Once you try them, you'll realize they serve 2. Oink.
Thanks to Food and Wine magazine for rocking our world over and over with this recipe, originally published in 2006. Thanks Kairu Yao for the photo.
Oola’s Crispy Deep-Fried Ribs
One reason Oola's ribs are so impossibly good is that they're braised for hours and then deep-fried so they're supercrisp. The sauce—which includes ketchup and plenty of garlic—was originally concocted for chicken wings.
14 large garlic cloves—8 peeled and smashed, 6 minced
1/2 cup sliced fresh ginger plus 1/4 cup minced (6 ounces total)
6 scallions, thinly sliced, white and green parts separated
4 star anise pods
3 cups soy sauce
2 quarts water
2 cups ginger ale
1/2 cup dry white wine
Strips of zest and juice from 1 navel orange
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup cilantro stems plus 1/4 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
3 racks of baby back ribs (5 1/2 pounds)
1/4 cup vegetable oil, plus more for frying
2 cups lightly packed brown sugar
1 cup ketchup
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1. Preheat the oven to 400°. In a large roasting pan, combine the smashed garlic with the sliced ginger, scallion whites, star anise, 1 1/2 cups of the soy sauce, the water, ginger ale, white wine, orange zest and juice, granulated sugar and cilantro stems. Set the pan over 2 burners and bring to a boil over moderately high heat.
2. Add the baby back ribs to the roasting pan, cover tightly with foil and bake for about 2 hours, or until the ribs are very tender. Let cool to room temperature, then spread the ribs out in a single layer on a baking sheet and refrigerate until chilled and firm, about 30 minutes. Discard the braising liquid.
3. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, heat 1/4 cup of the vegetable oil. Add the minced garlic and ginger and the scallion greens and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the remaining 1 1/2 cups of soy sauce, the brown sugar, ketchup and crushed red pepper and bring to a boil. Cook over moderately high heat for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and add the chopped cilantro. Transfer the rib sauce to a large bowl.
4. In a large, sturdy pot, heat 1 1/2 inches of vegetable oil to 375°. In a large bowl, whisk the flour with the cornstarch. Cut the racks into individual ribs. Toss the ribs in the flour mixture and shake off the excess. Working in batches, fry the ribs until the coating is lightly golden and crisp, about 2 minutes. Transfer the ribs to paper towels to drain briefly, then add them to the sauce in the bowl and toss to coat. Pile on a platter and serve hot.
MAKE AHEAD The recipe can be prepared through Step 3; refrigerate the ribs and sauce separately for up to 2 days.